Captain Sandy Yawn returns as the captain of the boat, Hannah Ferrier returns as the chief stewardess and Malia White is Bosun.
Voyaging around the beautiful island of Mallorca, Spain, on the 184-foot mega yacht The Wellington, the largest in Below Deck history, the crew encounters choppy waters trying to navigate everything from heartbreaks and power struggles to challenges with maritime law.
As these yachties work to conquer each charter, they struggle to set aside their differences, forcing Captain Sandy to make career-defining decisions that challenge the group in more ways than one.
Global News spoke with Captain Sandy about Season 5, comparisons between her and Below Deck‘s Captain Lee, how her life has changed since working in reality TV and much more.
Global News: What are you most excited for people to see in this upcoming season of Below Deck Med?
Captain Sandy: How women can lead and my proud moment is (Bosun) Malia (White) because she’s following a career path as a captain. I want to witness how she leads her deck team, how resistant they are to her as a woman. Do they fall in line? Do they respect her? And I shared with her the ways that I run a boat. When I get a new crew I don’t expect them to respect me as a person. They just have to respect the captain’s role and respect position, not me. My job. They have my full trust and I don’t expect them to trust me. I have to earn the crew’s trust because I have to show them I know my job. I have to show them I have your back and that I know how to lead. But they’re not all going to like me and I don’t really care. And by the end of the season, they not only respect my position, they respect me and they trust me.
And that’s what I want to witness with Malia right now. I guarantee you, they don’t really trust her at the moment. So let’s see if she can earn their respect as a person and their trust. They already have to respect her position. That’s a given. That’s the job requirement. Let’s see if she can conquer that. If she can do that then she is a true leader.
What’s your favourite part of working in the yachting industry?
The travel and the people to be honest. I’m a people person, so I enjoy the different personalities and culture and learning about the history of wherever I go.
How has your life changed since being on reality TV?
Well, I can no longer walk through an airport without getting stopped. I also get thousands of emails from people telling me how I inspired them so it lights my heart up to know that. I have kids email me too. I had an eight-year-old tell me I’m his role model and I was like, ‘your parents let you watch this show?’ (laughing). But for me, that’s the true blessing of the show. I also like how Bravo (Hayu and Slice) have reached so many people around the world to let them know that there’s actual jobs in this industry and it’s not just for coastal people.
Have you learned anything about yourself after you watch the seasons?
First, you have to learn self-leadership and you learn, you know, I have made mistakes in my life and sometimes I have done things I regret. For example, one time I came out of my cabin after a bad phone call and I bit my first officers head off. This wasn’t a part of the show. But what I learned was, I looked at him two minutes later and I saw his face and said, ‘you didn’t deserve that. I’m sorry.’ I’ve learned how to let myself off the hook. But I’ve also learned by watching that I’m actually a really good leader. I love how I see myself invest in people. I think when you witness yourself do that, it makes you want to do even better.
When I watch it I think, ‘oh my gosh, I’m so glad I was able to help Travis’ or ‘I hope that my conversation with him helped.’ The fact that I get to spend time with Malia and witness her develop in her career, and now she’s back as my Bosun and it’s rewarding and it’s a legacy I want to leave.
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Speaking about Travis, you are very inspiring! When you first shared your story about alcohol abuse I was shocked because you never know what people are really going through. Was it hard for you to open up about that, especially when you were trying to help him?
No, not at all. I don’t think of the cameras because of the fourth wall. But I saw a kid who was suffering, and I was 17 when I was a mess (laughing). And to be honest, back then I didn’t care if people saw me intoxicated or getting in trouble so why would I care about people seeing me actually get my life together. For me, I smelt alcohol on Travis’ breath last season. I knew I had to speak to him. He’s a good soul, he’s so great, actually a great guy. I just saw a human being that needed someone to talk to them. I didn’t think about cameras or I didn’t care what people thought of me. All I cared about was this kid suffering.
The look on his face after the conversation showed that it meant a lot to him. As someone who watches all the variations of this show, it meant a lot to me to see the Captain really reach out to their employee like that and let them know they are there for them.
The timing was right. I had watched him and I have respect for Travis although I don’t know him that well but he really knew his job. This season I think that when you watch it, people will see I just invest in people. I invest in people who are open and not resistant.
One of my main questions I’ve always had about Below Deck is about the camera crew. When I’m watching the show, I don’t see them running around on deck or anything. But how is your experience having them onboard?
They’re so good at their job that they stay out of each other’s shot or they wouldn’t be on board (laughing). This show costs a lot of money to produce so they’re very good. The fourth wall really works. They’re very respectful of the fourth wall. They don’t engage and as a people person and a charter captain I try to say good morning. You do learn the camera people and mic people’s names. If you try to talk to them they shake their head no. They don’t cross that line. And so when they don’t it’s like they disappear into the wall.
I have to go back to last season again, let’s talk about Mila. She lied on her resume to become chef and was serving nachos with melted shredded cheese as a dish. Has that situation affected the way you examine resumes now?
I want to believe everybody. I think it’s an insult to chefs to label yourself as a chef if you’ve never been a chef. Chefs train for years before they call themselves a chef. When you have someone like Mila, and I don’t know her history or culture, I consider all of that when I approach each crew member. I do it in a way with kindness. When they’re in that position you want them to just step away. You don’t want to have to fire them. You want them to come to you and say, ‘I took on more than I can handle. I’m really not qualified. Captain, I’m sorry I have to leave the vessel,’ but that never happens.
When it comes to chefs… and Adam with the onions, I mean, come on, so many times… and then I got Ben and I was like, wow, for once I have a real chef. When you get real chefs you get drama because they’re prima donnas, and … boss the galley around. I enjoy watching them freak out. So many times I’ve seen chefs lose their mind because something wasn’t right. This season I hope that Kiko matches what he has on his CV (resume). That’s all I have to say about Mila. I think that was a really hard thing for her and I can’t imagine what it was like to be her after all of that went down.
How do you remain so calm in such high-stress situations at sea?
I think that’s a true leader when you’re able to maintain the calm in the midst of a storm. I also think don’t drink or do drugs and I think that’s a big part of it for sure. I’ve been trained over the years how to maintain calm. If I’m not calm and I’m freaking out, then all the people around me are going to freak out. I always use humor in the middle of the crazy just to diffuse it. I just keep it simple. I’m very direct and I’m funny.
Each season I start with the crew and I want to end with the same crew. That’s always my goal. It’s up to them. It’s impossible to please every client and I tell the crew if I’m not OK with what you’re doing, you’re not fine. If I’m OK with it, everything’s fine.
How do you feel about all the comparisons between you and Captain Lee from Below Deck?
We are two different people with two different careers. I was a very busy charter captain in the Med. I did back to back charters. Captain Lee had a different career and were just two different people. There’s a lot of captains out there like me. I have a friend who dresses up like every time he comes out with an outfit on for a client. There’s no way I could compete with him. He is the funniest guy I know. There’s all kinds of captains. There’s very serious captains where the crew can’t walk on the bridge and then you have fun captains where it’s an open door. I’m that captain, I’m an open door policy captain. Captain Lee has his way and I have my way.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)
Below Deck Mediterranean Season 5 premieres Monday, June 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Slice and Tuesday, June 2 on hayu Canada.
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